SNP TRANSPORT SPOKESPERSON SOUNDS BREXIT BORDER CHAOS ALERT

BORDER FORCE UNDER STAFFING AT AIRPORTS NEEDS ACTION NOW

SNP Transport Spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP has again raised the issue of budget cuts to the UK Border Force  – and increasing concern about how Brexit is going to impact on already serious delay problems for travellers arriving at UK airports.

Drew Hendry has said that the travel industry has once again been left ‘holding the bag‘ on the failure of their disastrous Tory Hard Brexit plans.

Mr Hendry –  who raised the issue today in the chamber at Transport Questions  – has said that the UK Border Force will need a 200% increase in staffing to deal with post Brexit EU passengers according to figures obtained from the Tourism Industry Council. The service is already buckling as a result of swinging 15% cut to its budget since 2011, despite an 11% increase in travellers over the same period.

At the end of 2016, over 5,000 passengers entering Stansted had to queue for almost an hour, despite the Border Force agreed service standard of 25 minutes.   Earlier in 2016, passengers in Inverness were left stranded for over 2 hours when the service forgot to dispatch border agents from Aberdeen.

Drew Hendry MP commented:   “Once again a UK Transport Minister has  failed to deal with or understand  these growing problems for travellers and businesses and – once again the Tories are leaving the transport industry holding the bag on the fall out of their disastrous EU gamble.

“The Border Force is already poorly staffed and is unable to meet current demand, yet the Tories have no answer as to how they intend to prevent further border chaos in light of the massive increase in checks that the end to free movement in the EU will bring.

“According to the Airport Operators Association, the aviation industry is worth a staggering £51.9 billion to the UK Economy, yet every single one of their questions, including key issues around managing borders remain unanswered.

“While the government is dithering, the sector cannot plan investments or develop strategies for the future. The Tories might shout into the wind that that ‘Britain is open for business’ but the looming threat of border chaos with no visible plan is more like locking the door on the customers. Action is needed now, the UK government must say what the plan is to protect business and tourism before Brexit breaks it.

“Anything short of the UK remaining in the common travel area will have a devastating impact on the travel sector – leaving travellers paying the price of Brexit through long queues and higher costs and our excellent tourism industry paying the price of visitors inconvenience. We need answers now.”

Progress by the Aerospace Growth Partnership

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made by the Aerospace Growth Partnership.

The Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) has proved a highly successful partnership between Government and the industry. Together we have committed £3.9 billion for aerospace research and development through to 2026, to provide the industry with the certainty it needs to invest, and created the Aerospace Technology Institute to provide expert, market aligned advice to strategically deploy this funding.

The AGP has also launched the UK Aerospace Supply Chain Competitiveness Charter; increased supplier involvement in the ‘Supply Chains for the 21st Century’ operational excellence programme; supported expansion of the ‘Sharing in Growth’ intensive performance improvement programme to over 60 companies’; and has worked to encourage innovation in SMEs via the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme.

The Future of Inverness: Share your views!

I believe we need a long-term community supported plan for the development of a City the public actually want and, undoubtedly the young people in our community should be at the heart of such a plan.

With this in mind, I would like to invite 18-25 year olds living in Inverness, to share their views in this initial survey my team and I have prepared, which aims to collate the views of local young people, on the future of the city of Inverness.

I appreciate your free time is valuable so the survey is nice and short!

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2035yp

Airbus Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with Airbus Helicopters on (a) Airbus’ internal investigations into the accident at Turøy in April 2016 and (b) progress made in identifying with the Accident Investigation Board for Norway the causes of that accident.

Following the accident in April 2016, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been in regular contact with all interested parties including Airbus helicopters, the European Aviation Safety Agency, Norwegian authorities, helicopter operators, the offshore industry and workforce representatives. Department for Transport officials have also had discussions with Airbus Helicopters.

The Norwegian accident investigation team has published interim reports on its progress investigating the accident. Its work continues and a final report has not yet been published.

The UK Air Accident Investigation Branch is assisting the Accident Investigation Board of Norway (AIBN) under European and International protocols, and has been involved in their discussions with the manufacturer. The AIBN are conducting the investigation and any information on the investigation and progress will be released and published by them.

Representation of Gibraltar during negotiations of the UK leaving the EU

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that Gibraltar is represented during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU.

The UK Government has made clear that it intends to fully involve Gibraltar as we prepare for exit from the EU, to ensure Gibraltar’s interests are properly taken into account.

I have been closely involved in considering Gibraltar’s priorities from the start of the EU exit process. On 20 July, my first debate in my role as a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union was a Westminster Hall debate on the EU Referendum and Gibraltar (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-07-20/debates/16072020000001/EUReferendumGibraltar).

The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU and I met the Gibraltar Chief Minister on 12 September 2016 and I held a meeting with the Chief Minister and representatives of Gibraltar industry and trade unions on 1 November.

At a multilateral level, Minister for the Overseas Territories, Baroness Anelay and I met with leaders of the Overseas Territories on 2 November 2016 at the UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council. We committed to taking forward future engagement through the creation of the UK – Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations (JMC – OT EN), to meet in February.

I chaired the first meeting of the UK-Gibraltar Ministerial Forum on EU Exit took place on 7 December 2016, with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers taking part alongside the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar.

Ensuring Scotland is represented during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that Scotland is represented during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU.

The Prime Minister will ensure that we negotiate the best possible future for the United Kingdom, representing the interests of all of its constituent parts.

We have established a subcommittee of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations, known as JMC(EN), to take forward work with the devolved administrations, including discussing issues stemming from the negotiation process which may impact upon or have consequences for the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government or the Northern Ireland Executive.

The effect of potentially leaving the EU on relations between Gibraltar and Spain.

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what discussions he has had with the Government of Gibraltar on the potential effect of leaving the EU on relations between Gibraltar and Spain.

The UK Government has made clear that it intends to fully involve Gibraltar as we prepare for exit from the EU, to ensure Gibraltar’s interests are properly taken into account.

As noted in the Government’s recent White Paper (The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union), we have established a Joint Ministerial Council (Gibraltar EU Negotiations) with the Government of Gibraltar, which met for the first time on 7 December 2016. Department for Exiting the EU and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers took part alongside the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar. Ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union have met several times with the Chief Minister and other Gibraltarian stakeholders.

I gave both written and oral evidence to the Lords EU Select Committee’s inquiry into Gibraltar and the UK’s EU Exit on 25 January.

 

BREXIT BILL: SCOTLAND’S MPs 58 TO 1 AGAINST LEAVING EU

DREW HENDRY MP “THE PEOPLE OF THE HIGHLANDS WANT HOPE FOR THE FUTURE”

Local MP Drew Hendry has described the Commons’ vote on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill as a “yet another example of a broken Westminster system, with its broken promises to Scotland.”

Commenting on the Article 50 debate, in which the SNP put down an amendment to decline a Second Reading to the UK government’s EU bill to trigger Article 50, the local MP said:

“Only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs – Tory MP David Mundell – voted in favour of triggering Article 50 yet Scotland as the country faces being taken out of the European Union against its will. Throughout this entire process, the UK government has avoided scrutiny at all costs. They even tried to avoid this debate. Theresa May’s behaviour has been nothing short of an affront to democracy –

“During the Independence campaign, we were repeatedly told that voting ‘No’ would assure membership of the European Union – yet despite all 32 constituencies in Scotland voting TO remain, we are one step closer to being dragged out of Europe. All efforts by the First Minister to work towards a compromise have been rejected and ignored.

The case for Independence has never been stronger.”

 During his speech to Parliament, Mr Hendry told MPs that people in the Highlands want “A big hearted, open minded cooperative future, where all, wherever they come from, who contribute to a better society, are valued”. He went on to say that people in Scotland rejected the ‘insular little Britain’ Theresa May is offering.

 The SNP amendment won the support from 45 members from other parties, including several Labour MPs who voted against their whip – ultimately it was voted down 336 votes to 100.

The motion argued that the UK government had failed to set out provision for effective consultation with the devolved administrations; failed to publish a White Paper; refused to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK and has left unanswered the implications on key policy areas including withdrawing from the Single Market.

 

Helicopters in the North Sea

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with helicopter operators and manufacturers on steps to reassure workers in the North Sea about the maintenance and operational record of the helicopter fleet.

The Civil Aviation Authority are committed to the safety of oil and gas workers and continue to engage with the industry to ensure that these aircraft are safe. The Offshore Helicopter Safety Leadership Group (OHSLG), made up of helicopter operators, unions, member-organisations and the Civil Aviation Authority as the UK’s independent aviation safety regulator, works to ensure that offshore workers receive timely and accurate information on offshore helicopter safety.

The latest example of this was the recent safety inspections of the Sikorsky S92 helicopter, where OHSLG members met in January and worked together to ensure the offshore workforce received immediate information on the inspections, their context and what they involved.

Helicopter Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what monitoring his Department has undertaken of implementation of the Air Accident Investigation Branch’s safety recommendations made as a result of its report on the accident at Peterhead on 1 April 2009.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) made 17 recommendations as a result of its investigation into the accident to Aerospatiale (Eurocopter) AS332 L2 Super Puma, G-REDL on 1 April 2009. Of these two remain “open”.

The AAIB assesses whether responses to recommendations meet the intent of the recommendations and publishes its findings in an Annual Safety Report (previously named the Progress Report) on its website www.aaib.gov.uk

The AAIB does not monitor the implementation of safety recommendations.